English 11: Writing Portfolio


Catholic Memorial High School



Creative Writing  

The Dagger

It was an odd shaped figure, with a wooden handle and a type of metal only a god could break. The letters on this figure were hard to depict. Wrapped around this dagger was an old brown newspaper headlined “Who really did it?” Now its up to you and your partner Matt Johnson, to find out who really killed Andrew Thompson.

Let me introduce myself, my name is Matt Johnson, and I am a top special agent in the FBI. I’m not here to make friends. My job is in the pursuit of justice. The facts as I know them are; July fourth 1901, Mike Johnson, a nearly six foot tall man was accused of the murder of Andrew Thompson. Johnson and Thompson were business associates but Thompson was clearly in charge. The whole conflict was said to have started when Thompson and Johnson got into a verbal fight which ended up with Johnson almost losing his job. Thompson had then got into trouble with the boss, Robert Smith, and was told to get his act together or suffer various consequences.

On July sixth, Thompson was found dead at his home in Dedham. There was very little evidence in this case except for a dagger that was found sticking out of Thompson’s, body without fingerprints or any other physical evidence. There were only two suspects in this case, Mike Johnson and Robert Smith. Since Robert Smith had far more superiority than Mike Johnson, Johnson was the lead suspect and most likely the murderer of Andrew Thompson.o0o I forgot to tell you that this suspected murderer is my brother. I know for a fact that it couldn’t be my brother and I think you feel the same way. I mastered in these types of cases and I have won most of them not to brag or anything. So I decided to look at the knife. I went down to the Dedham police department and went to the secured storage room where all the evidence was kept. So I went into the room and looked around looking for the most recent evidence, whispering to myself “May 5, 1901, May 31, 1901, July 2,1901, July 4, 1901 finally!” By this time your probably saying “what a loser who talks to himself” right? Don’t lie. “Like you’ve never done that?” I raced through the folders and found the knife in a sealed plastic bag. Putting the knife on the table, I slowly took it out of the bag. When I first touched the knife its sent chills up my spine, and I knew right off the bat something was wrong. “Did you hear the voices?” “I wasn’t sure if I imagined them or not.” Ghost like sounds coming from the knife. “Was it the murdered one?” I observed the knife for about twenty minuets and got some very important information. I found lettering on this knife but it had been worn down and I could not make them out. The only ones that had shown up were “t”, “i”, “m”, “n”, “e”, “o”. Not only did this knife have those letters apparently had been made in Morra, Sweden. So I spoke to the officials there to try to obtain some information. They were of no help.

Back at headquarters a suspect was named. Could it be that Thompson had committed suicide? I asked them to hold off on their suspicions. There could be no way Thompson could have killed himself because they would have had Thompson’s fingerprints on the dagger and even if there were no fingerprints then Thompson would be wearing gloves and when he was found dead on July fourth there were no gloves on his hands. Now there was even more bad news, my brother is going to be put to death on August twentieth. Now only 20 days to find the real murderer or his brother is going to be killed.

“So do you think that the knife was all the evidence?” “The quite type I see.” “Your helping in this case too, so I want you to perform a biopsy. “So After looking at the stabbings of Andrew, you decided to look up in the throat area right?” “Yes.” “Looking in there I found a rag that read “h_ _ _s t_ _ _ or”. After sending it to the lab you found no fingerprints or anything. So I decided to put the letters into place. But could not find anything.

So I decided to give Robert Smith a visit. I’m not going to lie I was really scared because if he was the killer was I next? Robert Smith was found outside gardening. I approached him shook his hand and on the gloves I saw the letter “b”. I asked a couple of quick questions and got out of there as fast as I could. I got back to my house and called your phone to ask if you had any clue and then it hit me, “how could i be so stupid?” “and almost let a rookie get it before i got it!” “Maybe I’m losing it.” It spelt out Robert Smith’s name but backwards and it wasn’t an “n” it was an “r”, but why would Robert leave so many clues? Did he want to get caught and sent tojail?

Robert Smith confessed to the murder of Andrew Thompson on August 19th 1901 because not only was Smith jealous of Andrew because he had a family, a wife, friends and money but the knife that had gone into Thomson was doing the same thing to Smith it was like he had gotten stabbed and he had a scar where Andrew had his. Robert said that he didn’t do anything to himself it was the curse of the dagger and that it just showed up there after the death and has been hurting ever since. Robert was going to be put to death September 5th 1901 but died before because of internal bleeding.































Chances are that you have never seen this place, but by the end of the poem, you would have wished you were there. Your eyes would be sparkling with the beauty of this place, the place I call the unknown land. Miles and miles of open land as far as the eye can see with roses, dandelions, and many other flowers not know to any part of the world, only here, in the unknown land. The aroma of these flowers does something weird to you, almost like when you smell your favorite meal from your room and your mouth starts to water and you rush down stairs just as its about to be served and the food doesn’t even reach your plate before it is eaten. The aroma is only the beginning of the unknown land, and beyond are thousands and thousands of trees with animals from a-z. Knowing I could not travel the whole land, all I can do is watch.

As I step out of the warmth of my house with my hot chocolate in my hand and closed the door behind me a cold watery breeze came blowing by and my whole body shook. I sat down on the stairs looking at the unknown land, sipping my hot chocolate wondering if there were any way to share my warmth with nature as if mother nature were sitting right next to me sipping hot chocolate. As I look closer toward this unknown land I see the nests of blue jays and robins covered with snow looking like they were going to explode, expanding with every snowflake resting inside. The nests filled to capacity fall to the ground. Your can her the cracking branches as the nest goes through them going down with incredible speed. On the way down the nest was torn apart with pieces of the nest still on some of the branches just dangling there soon to be back with the rest of the nest. As for the rest of then nest, well it went through the cold wet snow and leaving an indent in the snow. Now a red hairy fox with a white tail some brown squirrels with white stomachs and a brown and white raccoon came out so see what had happened. As they ran to the mangled up birds nest they bowed their heads and put snow over the nest. The animals treated it like a burial, and this was thanks for what the nest had done, giving protection warmth, and a home for different types of birds. Thought the raccoon the squirrel and the fox did not live in this nest they give it thanks because the birds cannot and they would know the birds would do the same for their homes.

As I look out the window I can relate to the unknown land because we are both trapped. The land is trapped by mankind and its roads, and me confined to my room. I start to see the snow start turning into rain and I wondered why she is crying. I could not help but add to the rain out of frustration as if mother nature herself was the villain and I was the accomplice. The rain starts coming down even harder and my temper keeps getting higher and higher. I thought felt steam out of my ears and I thought I heard the sound of a train. With each drop of rain my anger raises and the rain seems to me like bombs taking out every piece of snow that it can. Now the unknown land that was covered by snow is now covered with only puddles. Mother nature does not like the winter because there are many deaths to roses, plants, pine trees and many other things as well. All she wanted to do is try and keep it like fall weather for as long as possible. The animals start to come out of their homes and wonder “is it spring already? Did I really sleep that long?” A squirrel came out of a hole in a pine tree and started to stretch and yawn and I swear I thought I saw the squirrel scratch his head looking perplexed. I too was like the squirrel wondering what I did to deserve this punishment. The animals knew that it was still winter and the first to know was the squirrel. Why your might ask? Well because he did not smell the fresh acorns that were on the trees, because there were no acorns. The squirrel ran over and told the fox and then the fox started telling everyone else and soon enough every animal went back to their homes and started to rest for the real spring to come. I too as well as many expect the best out of the world but usually come up short-handed.

I was finally let free but for the unknown land, its was still trapped, there was nothing I could do. I decide to take a walk outside. Stepping out the door and as I reach to the bottom of the step I step in some squishy unmelted snow and immediately my foot becomes numb. As a walk farther and outside my gate I start to smell the bitter smell of melted salt. Stepping on pieces of unmelted salt piercing my skin changed my mind on where I was going and decided to turn back and go inside. I could not understand how mother nature could stand this weather and as I pondered about this I started to daze off and finally fell asleep in my bed with my head by the window, as a guardian of the unknown land.

As I wake up the next morning and wipe the yellow sand from my eyes I glance outside to see the sun shining and the warmth of the sun hitting my face. I put my hand up to block the suns rays from hitting my blue eyes and I look over toward the unknown place. I walk down stairs and decide to take a walk around the unknown place before breakfast. I threw on my beige colored timberlands and walk outside. Not worrying about stepping on slush or salt I had got there much faster. I got to the unknown place and found that someone had been here, earlier than I was, and was looking at this place. Millions of things came to mind like “who was here?’ and “what are they going to do with the place if they buy it?” I was afraid for this land and decided to keep watch over it starting after breakfast. This footmark was fresh because it was about a couple of inches deep and I could tell by the marks on the ground that it was a Nike sneaker. Though the person did not return I had seen many great things happen. The grass the was hidden by the snow and soon after the rain was now hidden no more and was greener than ever. The birds had returned to their nests except those who have lost their nests in the snowstorm. This was a start of a new beginning for the robin and the blue jays and same with I, with a path we must make ourselves. The Robins eggs begin to hatch, and I too have hatched from a kid to an adult and look forward toward a good year to come.

This was only a section of what the unknown land can provide, hope, joy, a new start and a place for animals all over to raise their offspring. As long as I am looking over the unknown land, not construction will be taking place. Many people are invited to come and go as they please but treat it with the respect it deserves and it will give the same to you.

































Walt Whitman being a nurse for eleven years in the 1860’s uses descriptive and analytical statements that show us that this is no ordinary poem, its his reaction and contribution to helping those who have been wounded in the war. A poem about American troops going into unknown land and how strong they were to “March in the Ranks, Hard-Prest” (Title). Walt Whitman using religion, experience, imagery and personification describes the area in which the war is taking place.

Walt Whitman uses religion as one of his main themes in this poem. Repeating history contributes a lot to what religion is all about. A man dies on the battlefield in the hands of Walt Whitman “a soldier, a mere lad, in danger of bleeding to death” (11). In the past Jesus, “a mere lad” (11) was too in danger of bleeding to death. The man bled to death from a shot in the abdomen. This man died right in front of “A large old church at the crossing roads” (6) with a “dim-lighted building” (4) shining in his face. This man was not seeing the light of the building, but the light of heaven and god asking for him to come up. Similar instances have happened to Jesus, he died in front of a massive crowd with the sun beating down his face. The man knows that his time is up so he gives Walt Whitman “a half-smile” (22) for the help that he gave for trying to save his life, “then the eyes close, calmly close,”(23) and he passes away. Jesus, knowing that his time is up as well allows god to take his spirit up into heaven.

Walt Whitman is a repetitive poet who contributes experiences of his own life toward his poems. Walt Whitman was called to Washington D.C. not to help with the war but to be with his brother. His brother had just come back from war because he was shot, then he was asked to help out which he did for 11 years. Walt Whitman used this instance to help fuel him in making this poem. The man that was shot in the abdomen that “mere lad” (11) was actually his brother. Whitman thought it would be better to have him die in the poem to make it more dramatic and writes this poem like his brother actually died, with so much emotion.

Color is an important image in “A March in the Ranks, Hard-Prest” (Title). Whitman always uses color as something disturbing of evil in this poem whether its describing the dying man or its the description of the flame that burns the candles. As the ranks press forward the “Shadows of deepest, deepest black” (8) are the only thing that follows the soldiers. The only way they are able to see the shadows is because of the “pitchy torch stationary with wild red flame” (9), which lights their way. The ranks are soon ambushed by their enemies and now those shadows were on the grown waiting for help. One person in particular “the youngster”(12), his “face is white as a lily” (12) since all his blood was drained from his body by a shot in the abdomen. After any color that is described in the poem there is always death or disturbing things involved.

In this poem personification is found toward the end. “The unknown road still marching” is one example of how Whitman uses the road as a person and how like road, the ranks still move forward. Similar to the 1990s film “Saving Private Ryan” one of the soldiers was shot and was bleeding profusely. The captain played by Tom Hanks like Walt Whitman, both stuck with the man until he died. The difference between them are that the nurse in “A March in the Ranks, Hard-Prest” (title) never really knew this man but yet had the same affection as if it were his best friend.

“A March in the Ranks, Hard-Prest” (title) is a soldiers view on how war is and a nurses job in rejuvenating the men. Using all four themes Walt Whitman was able to write one of the best war poems I have ever read.




























A game in which the rich and noble could play, back when it was first made was tennis. Tennis was a game for the rich because they were the only ones who could afford courts back then. Even today tennis in Austria is called Royal Tennis, only pertaining to the royal and rich. In France they didn’t have public courts like we do today, but even though tennis does not attract the attention of most Americans, it is still very well known.

The object of tennis is to keep the tennis ball inside the court and in play once it has been served by one of the two sides there are two ways to play. Either with one player on each side, which is called “singles”, or two player on each side which is called “doubles”. The server on one team serves the tennis ball by tossing it in the air and hitting it with their racquets. Their goal off the serve is to place the ball across the net in a diagonal direction so it lands in the opponents’ deuce court. After the first points are scored both players move to the left and continue play from the advantage court. They keep on moving between courts after each point is made until the game has been won. Scoring is much different in tennis then any other sport around. Each point is not counted as a single point like hockey or soccer. Tennis gives points determining on who got the first game point, the first game point is worth 15, the second game point is worth 30, the third game point is worth 40 and one more point is needed from there in order for either side to win the game. In tennis there are many terms used that are only used in tennis. The most popular term is “love”. Love means that one of the players has a score of zero. So if the score is fifteen-love, then one player has 15 points and the other has zero.

Real tennis has been improved over time from an earlier ball game played around the 12th century in France. There are many the theories about the origin of the sport. One theory from Targair Limited is that it started as hand ball, played by monks around the cloisters of monasteries in Italy and France. Another theory comes from Tim Gundry who states, “Ball games can be traced back to ancient times and the earliest representations can be found in carvings in Egyptian temples dating from 1500BC. Traditions and the whole concept of the ball game spread into Europe in the 8th century, the influence spread by the Moors whose Empire reached into Southern France. the meeting of this eastern culture with Christianity gave an opportunity for the rise of tennis!”

Today we still don’t know the answer to who really invented tennis. So I decided to interview 10 Catholic Memorial High School juniors to see what they thought of the game or if they even know where it came from. When I asked these juniors about how the sport was played 80 % said “all you do is hit a ball over the net” While the other 20% went into more detail, but not much. When I asked Joe Greene why he thought tennis was a popular sport he answered “Tennis? You’re kidding right? When did it become popular?” Mike Clark was also asked why the sport is not popular he said “because it’s a non-contact sport, not many people get into fights or have blood shed. You don’t see tennis players getting taken off the court because of a broken leg like in football, and that what makes the games interesting to watch.”

Pat Hall, also a CM student, plays tennis for his high school varsity tennis team. Pat started when he was ten years old and plays at his school and at the Walpole courts. Having a record of 3 wins and 5 losses he is one of the best on the team. “It’s something to do with my spare time” pat says and “it’s better than watching t.v. when I get home, and its keeps me in shape.” I also asked him if there are ways of getting in shape for the sport and he replies by saying “Sprints help the most, but also playing against people better than you makes you better.” Though in tennis there are some down sides. Injuries may occur such as breaking your ankle or wrist. Pat says the only injury he has gotten was a strained wrist. Pat is a determined junior who hopes to play in college and later become an American pro.

Pat Hall’s favorite pro player is the tennis Hall of Famer, John McEnroe. This man was born in Germany but became American in the 1970’s after getting citizenship. “A 5-foot-11, 170-pound left-hander, McEnroe stands as perhaps the most skilled-and controversial-of all players,” says Dave Baker of Sports Illustrated. “McEnroe continued as a mainstay in helping the U.S. win four more Cups through 1992, and set numerous of his country's records: years played (12), ties (30), singles wins (41), singles and doubles wins altogether (59).” He was almost unbeatable in 1984, winning 13 of 15 singles tournaments on an 82-3 record. “This is part of what I do for a living” McEnroe says in an interview with Richard Pagliaro from the Tennis Week Magazine. Richard asked McEnroe why he thought not as many people watch tennis than an other sport. McEnroe states “I often mention NASCAR as an example of where they’ve done an incredible job making themselves accessible to the fans and the media. NASCAR has done an incredible job appealing to new fans of the sport while maintaining their fan base and trying to expand it.”

John McEnroe is basically why this sport is so American. John is a role model for little kids who want to be as good as him when they get older. Since the U.S hasn’t been very well at tennis and hasn’t won as many titles as France it still gives our country a sense of hope that many people, could become very good tennis players like John McEnroe.

There are many literary references to tennis and they come from poems, short stories and even novels. Sylvia Plath wrote a poem called “April 18th” which she compares the tennis balls with stars. This is a piece of he poem: A future was lost yesterday As easily and irretrievably As a tennis ball at twilight Sylvia thinks of the stars as little tennis balls that appear at night. Tennis must have been popular when she was alive for that to be on her mind. This Song comes from John Berryman and its called Eighty. In this song he personifies tennis as if it is like a person or its some kind of evil. It says “The Tennis is over” almost as if it were a bad thing. The play written by Shakespere mentions the game in Act I of Henry V.

Tennis may not be the best know sport in America but it is popularity is rising. Though it is not a contact sport, some changes can be made to make the game more interesting. It may not be as drastic as making it a contact sport but if it got more adversisement and make it seem like it’s a manly sport then it would attract more people.